BANGKOK — A bomb wounded 24 people at a military-owned hospital in Bangkok on Monday, the third anniversary of the army’s seizing of power in Thailand.
The attack struck Phramongkutklao Hospital, leaving three people with shrapnel wounds, with most of the others suffering minor injuries, said Major General Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a government spokesman.
The Thai military seized power in the kingdom on May 22, 2014, to derail a populist movement that had won several national elections over more than a decade. The coup was at least the 12th military takeover since Thailand abandoned the absolute monarchy in 1932.
Although the hospital that was bombed is owned by the military, it also treats civilians. General Chalermchai Sittisart, the Thai Army’s chief of staff, said the blast took place “in a room full of people who were waiting for their medications.”
“Most of these people are elderly and retired, and their families,” he said. “The bomb was made with the intent to take lives, because it consisted of a lot of nails.”
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, the deputy national police chief, said the blast bore similarities to a small explosion at the National Theater in Bangkok last week.
The military held an emergency meeting Monday in response to the blast, and Sittisart said that security had been increased at various government buildings.
Thailand has been grappling with low-level insurgencies, particularly in the south of the country, where Muslim separatists have carried out attacks against “soft targets” like markets in retaliation for crackdowns on militants.
Ransibrahmanakul was sharply critical of those behind the Bangkok blast, for having struck a hospital, saying that insurgents “in three provinces in the deep south don’t even choose a hospital as a target.”
Last summer, Thailand was rocked by multiple explosions that struck popular tourist destinations such as Hua Hin and Phuket.
Official suspicion fell on supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed as prime minister in a military coup in 2006, and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who also served as prime minister and was forced from office in the 2014 military coup. Both remain popular with voters in Thailand’s rural heartland.